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Former Patriots executive Mike Lombardi: Rob Gronkowski doesn’t have same quickness he once had

Ryan Hannable
September 26, 2018 - 8:36 am

Things haven't gone well at all for the Patriots this season as they are off to a 1-2 start and are two games back in the AFC East at any point in the year for the first time since 2002.

Appearing on The Ringer's GM Street podcast, former Patriots executive Mike Lombardi was highly critical of the Patriots and some specific players, including Rob Gronkowski and Dont'a Hightower.

Here are some of the highlights.

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On Rob Gronkowski: “Gronk doesn’t have the same quickness that he once had. The great combination of Gronk and Aaron Hernandez — Aaron Hernandez was quick, Gronk was quick and explosive. Gronk is more of a builder of speed now. People are playing for that, so none of those underneath routes really apply to Gronk. It’s got to be throws up the field. That limits what you do offensively and I think that’s the challenge for New England.”

On Dont'a Hightower: “I think what New England needs to do is stop playing [Dont’a] Hightower at linebacker and just make him a defensive end because when he’s at linebacker they are really slow. They need to play him down at defensive end. Just make him a nickel rusher. Put his hand in the dirt and make him a nickel rusher because that is the only thing they are going to be able to get out of him. They are not going to be able to get space plays and they have to get faster guys on the field on defense.”

On Cordarrelle Patterson: “Cordarrelle Patterson runs the wrong route — Cordarelle Patterson is always going to run the wrong route. [Tom] Brady is never going to trust Cordarrelle Patterson. There’s no chance. No chance.”

On Sony Michel: “I don’t see Sony Michel replacing Dion Lewis right now. They need him to. They need someone they can swing the ball to and make somebody miss in the flat and get 15 yards. Dion did it against Jacksonville. He’s got quickness, he’s got lateral burst. He can turn a 1-yard play into a [8-yard gain]. They don’t have that. James White is a catcher. James White goes down too easily. He’s not a runner. He is a catcher and if he has space to run he’s effective. If he doesn’t have space, he’s not getting any extra yards. That’s the problem.”

Related: Second Look: Rob Gronkowski hasn't been double-covered as much as you think